Over 415 cases remain pending with the OAG

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has over 415 cases pending in its office, which were forwarded to the OAG by different ministries and agencies. The cases are those that were forwarded to the OAG from January to September, 2022. However, an official from the OAG said that some of the cases may have been resolved, though the OAG has not been notified.

With 397 cases forwarded to the OAG by the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP), it tops the list. From the total case of 397 RBP received from January of this year till September, about 84 cases were convicted, while five acquitted cases are closed. According to an official from the OAG, there were also some cases that were appealed, which are now closed.

In RBP’s registered cases, about 266 cases are under review as of now according to the OAG. These cases, which are under review must have reduced in the mean time, an official from the OAG said. According to him, during prosecution, 36 cases were dropped while there are about nine diversion cases and one case was deferred for judgment. Diversion includes cases that involve juvenile or child sent for counselling.

Further, about 18 cases which are pending are from the ministries and agencies. “Out of 18 cases, only one case had been closed at the dzongkhag level which was a referral case,” the official said.

Pending cases may mean the delay of justice, by the judiciary and the judicial system. However, officials from the OAG said that cases remain pending as most need to be reviewed as per due procedure. “The cases have to be reviewed, scrutinized and submitted before the courts which provide check and balance in the legal system,” officials from the OAG said, “while the courts further review the cases being charged by the OAG through written reasoned decision.” About 90% of different cases are being charged in various courts while 10% is being reviewed by the OAG.

Meanwhile, the OAG in collaboration with other courts, have begun hearing of the cases online to reduce substantial litigation cost. However, most of these cases are civil cases. In order to make the judicial system more efficient, the office of OAG is conducting reviews for harmonization of laws with the Constitution, apart from drafting child justice training manual, uniform charge sheet for RBP and OAG and a common investigation manual.

According to Article 29 of the Constitution, the Attorney General as the chief legal officer shall be the legal advisor to and legal representative of the Government. In the performance of his or her duties, the Attorney General shall have the right to appear before all courts. The Attorney General shall have the power to institute, initiate, or withdraw any case in accordance with the law and the Attorney General shall have the right to appear and express opinions on any legal question in Parliament.

Sangay Rabten from Thimphu